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Arena Overperformers


Hello everyone. Once again, I'm back this week to take a look at some Standard decks that you can use at your local tournaments or against your friends. This week I have a few decks that come to us from Magic Arena. Each of these decks won six or more matches in a row during Ranked play by players at Platinum or Mythic ranking. Let's get started.

Gruul Mutate

We start this week with a deck featuring the mutate mechanic from Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths. Let's take a look at the deck.

Featuring sixteen creatures that have a mutate ability, this deck has abilities that you can use to help win the game unlike most other decks. Migratory Greathorn offers mana ramp each time it mutates. Everquill Phoenix offers you a way of returning Phoenix creatures from your graveyard to the battlefield. Gemrazer allows you to destroy an artifact or enchantment your opponent controls. Finally, Auspicious Starrix allows you the means of putting cards from the top of your library directly into play without the need of paying their mana cost.

One thing to note is that there are no Humans in this deck. That allows you to mutate any of your creatures. There are a few that you can mutate that will be better choices than others. Lotus Cobra and Ilysian Caryatid benefit greatly when mutated, as you're able to place the creature with mutate on top of these mana producers, giving them a higher toughness, thus making them more difficult to destroy. Scute Swarm is another creature that benefits from mutating for the same reason. Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig also gets a boost from mutating. Since Yorvo enters the battlefield with four +1/+1 counters, those counters will also boost the stats of the mutating creature, assuming it is placed on top when mutation occurs.

There is one creature that doesn't benefit from mutating your other creatures. That creature is Terror of the Peaks. Whenever another creature enters the battlefield under your control, Terror of the Peaks will deal damage equal to that creature's power to any target. If you're hoping to take advantage of that extra damage, you'll want to cast your creatures that have mutate for their regular casting cost, not their mutate cost, so that they will enter the battlefield as a new creature. You'll forego the benefit of mutating for extra damage. So, as you can see, Terror of the Peaks forces you to make a choice when you cast another creature that has a mutate cost, and that choice offers you a lot of depth when playing this deck.

Izzet Card Draw

The next deck I have for you features ways of drawing extra cards and extra benefits for doing so. Let's take a look at it.

As I mentioned before, this deck features multiple means of drawing additional cards during your turn. Opt can be played as early as turn one to draw an additional card, but you'll usually want to save it for later turns. Boon of the Wish-Giver, Frostveil Ambush, and Yidaro, Wandering Monster all can be cycled. Boon of the Wish-Giver can also be cast to draw four additional cards instead. Gadwick, the Wizened allows you to be able to draw as many extra cards as you'd like, based on the amount of mana put into it. You also have access to Teferi, Master of Time's +1 loyalty ability, which allows you to 'loot'.

In order to take advantage of these additional cards drawn, there are some cards you'll want to have in play. Improbable Alliance creates a 1/1 Faerie creature token with flying when you draw your second card each turn. It also has a built-in way to allow you to draw an additional card, as long as you have sis mana available. There's also Irencrag Pyromancer, which deals three damage to any target whenever you draw your second card each turn. Keep in mind that each of these cards can be used both on your turn and on your opponent's turn, provided that you are able to draw two cards on your opponent's turn.

In order to win the game, you might need more damage than Irencrag Pyromancer can provide. With Improbable Alliance, you'll be able to create evasive creatures. If you find yourself in a position where your Faerie army is unable to get the job done, Yidaro, Wandering Monster can potentially give you a win. There will be times when you'll be able to cycle Yidaro four or more times, and can put Yidaro onto the battlefield from your graveyard. Other times, you might be able to stall out long enough to be able to hard cast Yidaro from your hand. However you manage to get it into play, Yidaro can deal a massive amount of damage thanks to having both trample and haste.

Mono-Black Midrange

The final deck I have for you this week has the potential to win the game without ever attacking. Let's take a look at the deck.

Ayara, First of Locthwain allows you to 'drain' your opponent of one point of life whenever she or another Black creature enters the battlefield under your control. Since all of the creatures in this deck are Black, you can 'drain' a lot of life from your opponent. This also allows your devotion to Black to become quite high, which allows you additional life 'drain' when you play Gray Merchant of Asphodel. Even if your devotion to Black is only two or three, the life loss that your opponent will suffer only intensifies when you have Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose in play. This life 'drain' is what can allow you to win without even needing to attack.

However, just because you can win without attacking, doesn't mean you shouldn't attack. By attacking with your smaller creatures such as Archfiend's Vessel and Hateful Eidolon, even in the face of larger blockers, you'll either deal damage to your opponent or get blocked and destroyed. Having these creatures in your graveyard allows you to bring them back in a couple of different ways. The first is with Lurrus of the Dream-Den. Lurrus allows you to cast one permanent spell from your graveyard each turn, as long as that permanent has a converted mana cost of two or less.

The other way of returning creatures to play from your graveyard is by attacking with Drana, the Last Bloodchief. Drana allows any nonlegendary creature to return to the battlefield as a Vampire with a +1/+1 counter on it. The problem is that your opponent chooses which creature to return. Even though all of the power of choice rests with your opponent, a free creature is still a free creature. In certain cases, your opponent might not have a lot of options to choose from. One thing to keep in mind is that Archfiend's Vessel will become a 5/5 Demon creature token with flying no matter which way it returns to the battlefield from your graveyard.

Wrapping Up

Since this article is scheduled to be published on Thanksgiving here in America, I hope all of you reading this are safe and healthy. Whether you chose to celebrate virtually or in person, let me know if playing Magic with your family is a part of your celebration.

What do you think of these decks? Do you have any suggestions for improvements? Let me know by leaving a comment below. Also, feel free to share this article with your friends anywhere on social media. And be sure to join me here again next week as I continue my search for innovative decks in Standard. I'll see you then!

-Mike Likes

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